I found your news item ‘Don’t leave trainees hanging on, law firms told’ (10 January) topical and interesting.
I am in this position with my firm. The one thing your article does not address is firms demanding repayment of LPC fees/contributions at the end of a training contract. There was a recent case involving a DWF trainee where the repayment was disputed.
The new guidance says that law firms should inform a trainee no later than eight weeks prior to their expected admission date whether there is an available newly qualified position.
I am eight weeks from qualifying and I have just accepted an NQ role with another firm. I have had limited contact from the graduate recruitment team in my current firm and, despite approaching partners directly in October and chasing up HR, I have had no formal job offers. It is only since advising my employer that I have accepted a job elsewhere that they are now saying there is an available NQ position, which technically I have ‘refused’.
Ultimately, I was concerned I would be left without a job in March if I did not look externally. I am now being penalised financially as my current firm has refused to pay the SRA fees for qualification (including £42 for the screening/DBS checks and £216 for my practising certificate). They are also demanding full repayment of the £3,300 LPC contribution, which I received at the start of my training and which I used to pay off my LPC debt/student loans.
This is all on the basis that I have ‘failed to apply for an available NQ position’ and that I have now ‘refused the offer of an NQ role’ just eight weeks before qualification.
I appreciate that law firms invest much time and money in their trainees but ultimately I think this new guidance is very appropriate. Trainees cannot be expected to hang on until the last minute to receive confirmation of an internal NQ position when there are available jobs elsewhere. And they should certainly not be penalised financially for making the decision to look externally.
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